Migraines, pt. 2

So yesterday I ended a four day migraine. Over the last couple of years, I’ve mainly gotten away with one day migraines that I could sleep off overnight. This last one, though, was a doozy that clung to me from day to day to day to day.

Yesterday, I wandered into my neurologist’s office, just a floor up from my psychiatrist’s office where I had an already scheduled appointment. I expected to leave a message for the nurse, further expecting that she would return my call and then order up a steroid pack for me. I had exhausted my other options: Fioricet, Cataflam, Midrin, and Lortab.

To my great delight, I discovered that my neuro has opened a migraine clinic! Within ten minutes, I was in a dark room talking to a nurse practitioner and ten minutes after that, I had my hip out getting an injection of Toradol and steroids. Had I had someone to drive me home, they would have given me some nice fat sedating meds, too. Alas, that wasn’t the case.┬áBut with the Toradol, I got to come home with an eased head and room to sleep off the migraine. Last night, I was pain free for the first time in days.

The next issue to address is why I have a constant low grade headache. As soon as the drugstore can get it filled, I’ll go on a med we haven’t tried yet, Calan. I’ve also determined I need to be more intentional with my diet. I’m not drinking enough water and too much booze when dehydration is killer for migraines. Chocolate is out, including the oatmeal chocolate smoothie I had for breakfast, as nourishing as it was. I eat a plant based diet, which is good, but I need to eat more constantly, making sure that I keep my blood sugar steady. I also need to make sure I’m getting enough sleep, a constant challenge for bipolar me.

So mainly good news: new migraine clinic, new med, a refocusing on lifestyle. First world solutions I’m lucky to have.


There are some things I’ve inherited from my Mom that I so appreciate. Socially, she instilled in me her social graces, her sense of gratitude, her kindness (which I execute when my bipolar doesn’t make me a bitch), and her tolerance. Intellectually, she instilled her love for reading and learning. And genetically, I scored her beautiful blue eyes and the widow’s peak I love.

On the flip, I got her migraines. I’ve had many recently, I think due to weather and I have one as I type this. I heard a migraineur, as we’re called, on the radio once say that we can experience pain no one else can imagine and still function. I’m not sure that isn’t some hyperbole as I think sufferers of back pain could be right there, but I get her meaning. Right now, my face is burning, I feel like someone is driving daggers into the back of my head, and the front of my head feels as if there’s an open wound and someone is rubbing gravel into it. At least that’s the best way I can describe the pain to you.

I’m on daily medication, Topamax, to try and manage my migraines. My doctor recently tried to put me on an extended release version of this med, called Qudexy, but my insurance company, TriCare, declined to cooperate. When I get a migraine, I have several options to manage it. A medication called Fioricet, which I took first thing this morning, normally dulls the pain so I can function. If I need a stronger medication, I take an old school med, which is almost impossible to find anymore, called Midrin. Imitrex is a more popular option, but it makes me feel like I can’t breathe so I obviously stay clear and another popular option, Maxalt, doesn’t work for me.

When the migraine is unmanageable; when it makes me crawl to bathroom throwing up; when it takes my sight, actually blinding me; I go to the ER. ER docs are used to migraineurs. I get a good combo of Toradol, a pain med, and Compazine, a nausea med, some IV fluids, and sleep it off. I have both Toradol and Compazine at home, but the IV administration is better.

I’ve had MRIs to try and find out why I have frequent and tenacious migraines and the answer, as it is for so many migraineurs is, “no idea.” There is some evidence that bipolar folks have migraine disease. Why? Your guess is a good as mine.

When my Mom was about my age, she had terrible migraines. She even went to Duke University to participate in a study. Nothing came of it. I remember riding with her in the back of the car, taking her to the ER while she threw up. After menopause, her migraines virtually went away and now, in her 70’s, she has none. I can only hope that I’ll inherit that tendency, as well.